Author's Note: the Sly Cooper series, the events concerned, and the characters are all copyright of Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., Sucker Punch Productions 2006, and any other groups/people that deserve the credit. This is a non-profit work of fanfiction.

This story is told from the perspective of Clockwerk following the events of Sly Cooper and the Thievious Racconus, as the evil mechanical owl quietly watches the events of Sly 2 and beyond—although most of his body was accounted for in those games, his brain, and thus the fiendish intellect and driving force that guided that relentless mechanical body, wasn't really accounted for. What follows is my take on what might have taken place—something that fills in a possible plot hole or two from Sly 2, and how Clockwerk might have had a hand in the events of that game.

The title "A Cold-Hearted Interlude" refers to several things—to Clockwerk's stage in the original Sly Cooper and the Thievious Racconus, "The Cold Heart of Hate;" to what might have happened during the events of Sly 2 and onward, and to the fact that this is a separate fic from "Sly Cooper: On Equal Ground." In a way, this can be seen as an interlude between the latest chapter of that fic and the next one.

Anyway, enough introduction for now…let's move on with the show! For those of you who've read my previous works; for those of you who're reading my fanfics for the first time, and for those who love to hate Clockwerk as the most fiendish master villain of the Sly Cooper series…have fun reading this!

Sly Cooper: A Cold-Hearted Interlude

A fanfiction by LonePhantom

Chapter One: Inferno

My name is Clockwerk.

I am immortal.

I have awakened from unconsciousness.

And I am burning.

I am surrounded by liquid fire. Boiling, scorching lava that all but envelops the battered husk that is all that remains of my head, seeping through cracks and sears the interior like the infernal flames of Hell itself, slowly pouring in through those open wounds and burning me from within as I float precariously on in that vast pool of molten rock, somehow suspended enough to not sink into its fiery depths completely. By freak coincidence, one of my eyes still works, and I can watch as the rest of my body, floating nearby like a half-sunken shipwreck, is slowly incinerated by the lava that chews away at its ravaged form. The hellfire glow of the magma tints my vision with fiery red-orange and abysmal smoke—a preview, perhaps, of what lies in wait for me should my immortal life finally draw to a close.

And yet, despite all of this, there is no pain.

How can there be? I am, after all, a being of metal and circuitry; a robotic owl with a living brain, the one last piece of me that is still organic after these untold millennia. Everything else—talons, wings, eyes, beak, and the rest of my body—is composed of metal and wires, not the flesh and bone that I was originally born with.

Even my internal organs—my heart, lungs, stomach, and the like—are artificial, nothing more than mechanical constructs that bear a resemblance to their organic counterparts, but are modified to serve the purposes of a mechanical shell. My "heart" is really a pump that circulates machine oil throughout my body, and serves as a conductor for electrical energy. My "lungs" are more for aesthetic effect, yet they double as a means of regulating coolant to prevent myself from overheating. My "stomach" is, in fact, a sort of hybrid backup power core, not only providing power but capable of breaking down foreign matter into fuel.

Now, along with the rest of me, these "organs" burn in this sea of molten fire that is the Krack-Karov Volcano's crater. Even so, there is no pain—I feel nothing of the liquid inferno. That isn't to say that sensations are entirely beyond me—indeed, I built sensors into my frame which are capable of recognizing physical sensations such as pain if I so desired to feel them—to be unaware of such feelings, after all, could be more disadvantageous than not, both in combat and when trying to discern things through touch.

And, perhaps…just perhaps…the part of me that remembers what it was to be flesh and blood still yearns for some semblance of feeling…some means of acknowledging the fact that I am a living being, and not simply some advanced machine that thinks it was once a real person.

But those sensory circuits—along with the rest of the delicate inner workings that my tough outer shell was meant to protect—are destroyed now, blasted and smashed by the blows of my enemies and melted into so much useless slag by the lava that burns away at me even now, as if trying to consume me in its infernal grasp.

While my physical body is all but destroyed, however, I am still capable of thought—always cautious, I used a rare, ultra-refined version of the metal that composed my main body to construct a separate housing for my brain—a "jar" of sorts, encapsulating my brain in an extremely resistant form of Plexiglas that contains a gelatinous blue-green fluid, preserving my brain and constantly healing any illness or injury. The rest of the brain case is equally resistant, possessing a compact-but-complex series of systems that makes my brain case self-sufficient and far more impervious to harm than the rest of my body.

While the lava churns steadily against my brain case, baking it with the infernal heat that only a live volcano can provide, it is ultimately futile. The rest of my body may be broken, but the part of me that truly matters, that makes me more than a lifeless machine, remains unharmed in the end. The part of me that is capable of sentient thought. The part that is me.

The part that is capable of hatred.

And I have much reason to hate now.

For I remember, all too well, how my current state came to be.

Damn that Cooper raccoon; him, that pitiful "gang" of his, and that meddling vixen from Interpol! The boy was the weakest of his line that I have yet done battle with…intellect, experience, strength, and skill—in all of these, I was clearly his superior! Victory should have been mine—the Cooper line extinguished at long last, their thieving reputation finally eclipsed by my own. And yet, despite the overwhelming odds in my favor, my ardent desire goes unquenched—somehow, this whelp, Sly Cooper, has defeated me! That realization only serves to stoke the fires of my hatred for him, and all that are close to him—how dare they mock me with their sham victory!

And yet…I cannot help but feel something else along with my eternal hatred for the Cooper lineage—a profound sense of irony. All of this, you see—Sly Cooper's defeat of the gang that I founded, his rising star as a master thief, and even his triumph over me—all of it might have been avoided ten years ago.I could have killed Sly Cooper back then, right alongside his parents, when I directed the attack on his parent's home and stole their precious Thievious Racconus a decade earlier.

And yet, I did not—the boy survived that bloody night, albeit as an orphan who was now alone in the world.

It was not ignorance of Sly Cooper's existence that saved his life that day—having relentlessly hunted the Cooper clan over the millennia, I made it a habit to know everything I could about each of them…and the fact that the latest of their line had married and had a son was no exception, despite his attempts to vanish by changing his official name. Nor was it a particular sense of mercy on my part that stayed my talons that night—indeed, when I decided to let the young Cooper live, the fate I had in mind for him was much more cruel.

I wanted to see the Cooper line humbled and broken—their reputation as master thieves shattered, the spirit of their last surviving member crushed, and my superiority to them proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. For this, I decided that the young Sly Cooper should live. There was no doubt in my mind that despite the loss of his parents and the Thievious Racconus, he would nevertheless try to follow in his father's footsteps; that he would take up the mantle of a thief and, eventually, seek out me and the rest of the Fiendish Five—not only for what he undoubtedly saw as his birthright, but also to avenge his family.

I was equally confident that he would fail miserably—that without that precious book, the last surviving member of the Cooper lineage would have no chance of attaining the kind of level as a master thief that his ancestors before him had achieved, let alone avenge his parents' deaths at my talons. In giving him this chance to fail in such spectacular fashion, I sought to prove to the world, once and for all, that the once-proud Cooper clan was nothing…and thus, their reputation would be forever eclipsed, and the title of the greatest master thief would belong to me, Clockwerk.

But it seems that I have sorely underestimated the raccoon's resourcefulness.

I maintained surveillance of the Cooper line's last living heir, focusing the covert resources at my disposal on keeping track of the young would-be thief's life and progress. Thus, by the time he was eighteen, and with his two partners began his quest to retrieve the Thievious Racoonus, I had a grasp of what Sly Cooper was capable of—while he had shown a natural apt for the art that I hadn't expected, I was nonetheless confident that he would ultimately fail.

When he and his little "gang" tracked down and defeated my Chief Machinist, Sir Raleigh, I initially gave little concern to the matter—I had expected that Sly might be good enough to beat one of the Fiendish Five. When he then went on to defeat Muggshot and Mz. Ruby, however, I began to pay closer attention. While Raleigh had allowed himself to become somewhat complacent in his seabound hideout, my Enforcer and Chief Mystic had maintained a greater amount of security in their respective operations—for Sly Cooper to overcome them suggested that the infernal raccoon was developing the techniques he stole back from my comrades with greater speed and ease than I had expected.

By the time that word of the Panda King's defeat reached my lair in Russia, I knew that it was only a matter of time before Sly Cooper came after me, and that there was actually a chance that he could pose a threat to my being. Nevertheless, as my security cameras detected the approach of his team's van, I welcomed his arrival—how better to prove that I was superior to the Cooper clan than to dispatch their last living descendant and his pitiful "gang" personally?

In the years following my theft of the Thievious Raccoonus, I had returned to the lair I had built back in Russia—the very lair that now burns around me—and had devoted myself to converting it into a death-trap for any who would be foolish enough to intrude. A minefield on the path to my fortress, an armada of Robo-Falcons of my own design, a series of experimental bio-weapons that fused durable CPU units within slug-like bodies of lava, and even the Death Ray that I had been developing for global extortion and chaos…looking back on it now, on some subconscious level, I had prepared this fortress as the stage for the final act between me and the Cooper line—the ultimate in security systems, meant to prove that in the end, the last living descendant of my sworn enemies didn't have what it takes to be a true master thief.

Here, I pause—if I still had my talons, I would be clenching them in frustration right now. All of that preparation…for absolutely nothing! Sly Cooper and his pitiful little "gang" would not be stopped. Regardless of the obstacles in their path, they kept on coming. They penetrated my defenses. They overcame my traps. And ultimately, they brought the Death Ray tower—my crowning achievement of this era, both a weapon and the nerve center of my fortress—crashing down around me.

But they were not alone in doing so. There was that vixen from Interpol—Inspector Fox, I believe she is called. Even before this, she had been a thorn in my side, snooping around the operations of the other members of the Fiendish Five in her pursuit of Sly Cooper, and ultimately bringing them in when she was unable to capture the raccoon. Then, when she became a more direct problem by coming after me, I captured her. Given that my information suggested that, against all logic, Sly Cooper might have a certain attraction to her, I decided that she might provide useful bait to lure the raccoon to his doom. Sure enough, the fool walked right into my trap, and he and the vixen would both have died there, were it not for the intervention of that hacker friend of his.

And then he and that meddling vixen came after me. No matter what I did, they would not fall, and they would not stop. My Death Ray tower, both my inner sanctum and my mightiest weapon, the nerve center for the criminal empire I intended to create—nothing more than slag now, consumed as it sank into the lava. Finally, I myself flew out to engage Sly Cooper personally—even if all else had failed, I should have been able to crush that pitiful raccoon, even with that missile-equipped jet pack of his. But in the end, that meddling vixen and her infernal lightning gun made all the difference. In more ways than one, she is just as responsible for my fall as Sly Cooper

And so, inconceivable as it is, my plan has backfired. Once again, the Coopers have found a way to defeat me, despite the odds. Their last living descendant has reclaimed his family's greatest treasure, and has left me and my plans in ruin. However, the ignorant fool has made one fatal mistake—he thinks that I am dead.

And I am not.

Despite the searing heat of this volcano, my mind is clear. I may have fallen today, but my hatred sustains me. Even if this body of steel and circuitry is destroyed, my brain—my true self—lives on. I will remember Sly Cooper's face, and those of the people close to him. That turtle who hacked into my systems. That hippopotamus whose daredevil driving got them into my fortress. And that meddling vixen, Inspector Fox, as well. Yes…her and Sly Cooper above all others. Someday, they will pay dearly for—

Wait. Though the audio filter in my head is destroyed, the one on my brain case works well enough—I hear something. Voices? The sound of engines and machinery? With what few systems that have not yet been incinerated, I guide the camera lens of my one good eye about, searching for the source of these things. At first, I see nothing but the jagged ridges of the crater through the smoke and ash.

But now I can make out more—helicopters circling overhead. Radio chatter. Blurry figures at the edges of my vision operating machines that I cannot make out from this angle. A few all-terrain vehicles parked at the crater's edge. Though it is difficult to do so, I succeed in zooming in on one of these vehicles. And now I see it—the trademark star/shield emblem of Interpol emblazoned on the truck's side.

So. The vixen has called in the cavalry.

What's this? Something has attached to me from above—a magnet. I am rising now, lifted away from the infernal lake that has scorched me so with the continuous whirr of a crane ringing in my audio sensors. Nearby, I see the same thing happening with the rest of my body—from my new position, I see now that those machines I noticed earlier are cranes, operated by people in hazard suits as they lift the scattered remnants of my decimated frame away from the lava. Others surround the perimeter, armed with imposing assault rifles and keeping a constant watch for anything hostile. Both the workers and the guards all wear the star of Interpol on their uniforms, confirming my earlier suspicions. This is the clean-up crew, obviously retrieving what's left of my lair—and of myself—for evidence.

Now the magnet is being turned—I'm at the top of the crater now, facing two individuals who are standing apart from the hustle and bustle of their fellow officers, both looking at me as they talk to each other. One of them I do not recognize—a short, gruff-looking brown badger of significant age with a futuristic pistol not unlike Inspector Fox's tucked into a shoulder holster, the badge on his dress shirt suggesting that he is an Interpol chief. I do recognize the other, though—it's that meddling vixen, herself!

The badger points at me with the stub of a cigar in one hand, ruffling his bushy gray mustache with the other. "So, this was Clockwerk, eh Carmelita?" A pause. "Or what's left of him, anyway?"

The vixen nods. "That's right, Chief Barkley—from what I was able to dig up before he caught me, he was planning to use that Death Ray of his as part of some plan to blackmail the nations of the world into paying him off to prevent any destruction to their countries...either that, or just start blasting away, causing all kinds of chaos, and then stealing important treasures and large sums of cash in the confusion."

The one called Chief Barkley growls at this. "That lunatic," he curses. "It's good thing that he was stopped before he had a chance to carry through with that crazy scheme of his." Then he looks at Carmelita, the somewhat stern expression that appears on his face matching the tone in his voice. "It's a shame you couldn't catch Sly Cooper while you were at it, though."

Inspector Fox seems flustered—it's hard to tell, what with my one remaining eye being half-disconnected and damaged, but she seems to be blushing. "I just got careless, sir," she says quickly. "I won't let him pull a fast one on me again—next time, I'm gonna nab that Ringtail!"

Unbelievable. I have been reduced to scrap and unwittingly arrested, yet that Cooper whelp has escaped!

Unaware of my silent anger at this indignity, the badger shrugs dismissively. "Oh, well," he says as he gestures to me again with his cigar. "Compared to catching this guy, nabbing that Cooper kid can wait—from what our police files suggest, this guy's been committing crimes since at least before World War II! Besides, with him and the rest of his gang out of commission, we can finally close the book on the case of the Fiendish Five." Then he smiles a little, a tone of approval breaking through his gruff attitude as he pats Inspector Fox on the elbow. "All in all, you did good, kid. Congratulations."

The vixen salutes, obviously taking this remark with pride. "Thank you, sir! And I assure you, Clockwerk was just the beginning—next time, Sly Cooper's ring-tailed extremo is mine!"

At that moment, an urgent beeping comes from something attached to the badger's belt and he looks down at it, grimacing in irritation. "Hold on a sec, I'd better take this call—that'll be the Russian authorities wanting to know when we'll be leaving." As he starts to walk away, he looks over his shoulder to Inspector Fox. "I'll expect your report on this whole Fiendish Five affair on my desk next Friday, then. See you back at H.Q." With those words, he walks off, pulling out a cell-phone as he does so.

Now it is just me and this Interpol vixen, who is still saluting her chief as he walks away. Presently, she turns to face me, her eyes narrowing as she takes in the sight of my battered head. Undoubtedly she is recalling how easily I trapped her before, finish this

"You were just the warm-up round," she says in a voice that is quiet, but hard as iron with determination. "Sly Cooper's my real challenge." With those words, she turns on her heel and begins to walk away.

I seethe quietly as I watch her leave. How dare this meddling vixen consider me less of a master thief than that Cooper whelp! I should activate the emergency systems on my brain case, and show that Interpol lapdog that I am nowhere as immobile, inactive, or inadequate as she thinks—I should make her pay for her presumptions and interference.

But…no. There are too many officers around here. While I am confident in the durability of my brain case, there is the vixen's Shock Pistol to consider—it was, after all, capable of disabling my protective field and leaving me vulnerable to more conventional weaponry. Even if I can kill the vixen before she brings it to bear, her chief also possesses such a firearm…and it is unlikely that I will reach him before he can get a shot off. My brain case is highly resistant, but can it resist the effects of a powerful electric discharge that has already proven itself capable of disabling my defenses…especially after it's already been exposed to the exceedingly hot lava of a volcanic crater?

Is it worth risking my immortal existence, my chance for revenge, to find out?

No. It isn't. And besides…it may actually prove more beneficial to lay low for now.

Let these fools think I am dead, nothing more than a collection of scattered spare parts and a brain in a jar whose life-support functions were destroyed with the rest of its body. When the time is right, I will show them just how wrong they are. I have cheated death in all of its guises over the centuries, while my enemies have often thought I finally perished…only to regret it when I came back to haunt them months, years, or even decades, later. This time will prove no different.

Sleep well for now, Sly Cooper—revel in your victory, in your retrieval of your family's heirloom. Go ahead and think that you have finished the arch-nemesis of your family once and for all.

In time, I will have my vengeance…

To Be Continued…

There you have it—the first chapter, as seen from the eyes of the evil immortal owl himself! Feel free to read and review as you see fit; I always appreciate the input of my readers.

Oh, and before I forget, here's a translation for Carmelita's use of Spanish:

Extremo: butt.

Well, that's about it for now. Until my next submission to it in this fic, or in On Equal Ground—ciao!